I just read this article published by Jonathan Berr in the DailyFinance. It touched me for several reasons. One, I lived few minutes away from Camden, in a very different world. Second, I lived minutes away from Fort Myers, which is now in the top five cities most touched by the real estate crash.
I tHought it was the perfect story to constrast the Obamas’vacations coverage and underline the disconnect, arrogance and comtempt displaid by this administration vis a vis the American people, in times when comfortable and secure vacations at Camp David as traditionally taken by American Presidents were not enough.
US President Barack Obama, seen here during his Christmas break in Hawaii, is expected to break his public silence on the thwarted attempt to down a US airliner, as a political storm brewed over the attack.(AFP/Jewel Samad)
President Barack Obama, center, walks to the tennis courts at Kailua Racquet Club in Kailua, Hawaii, Monday, Dec. 28, 2009. The Obama family is in Hawaii for the holidays.(AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Earlier this year, the National Alliance to End Homelessness estimated that 1.5 million people would be made homeless over the next two years as a result of the recession. In this series of profiles, DailyFinance speaks with some of the people who have fallen victim to layoffs, foreclosure, unforgiving creditors and plain old bad financial luck. Here are their stories.
Jennifer Paul and her nine-year-old daughter Alyssa are trying
to make the most of things this holiday season. Since October, the two have been living in the Anna Sample House, the biggest shelter for families in Camden, N.J. -- one of America's most downtrodden cities.
Paul, a proud 33-year-old woman who sports tattoos of a butterfly and her daughter's initials on her hands, has managed to scrape together enough money to buy her daughter a few small presents. The shelter has a nice artificial Christmas tree and Paul figures there will be some sort of celebration, but she's not sure what it will entail. Creating a festive mood in any homeless shelter is difficult, particularly when many of the residents don't feel like celebrating.
A Painful Journey to Camden
The mother and daughter's road to homelessness has been fraught with heartache and bad luck. About two years ago, Paul's husband Christopher died suddenly. At the time, Paul was still mourning the loss of her mother who had died less than a year earlier. Her father died years ago.
In hopes of starting anew and escaping some of the painful memories in New Jersey, Paul and her daughter moved to Fort Myers, Fla. where she secured a job doing data entry work. Just a few months later, however, disaster struck. Suffering under the weight of the Great Recession, her employer abruptly shut its doors.
Devastated, the mother and daughter slinked back up Interstate-95 to New Jersey. "Home" for them was crashing at the on the couches and in the spare rooms of friends and relatives. In March, things were looking a little brighter. Paul landed a job working for food service provider, Aramark, at Camden's Adventure Aquarium, one of the Philadelphia area's major tourist attractions. With the money she earned, she and her daughter moved into a seedy motel. But the two soon had to pack their bags after the state Division of Youth and Family Services deemed the place unsuitable for Alyssa. By October, they had moved into the Anna Sample House.
As if things weren't bad enough, Paul recently lost her job at the aquarium. Aramark told her that the stresses of being homeless were hurting her job performance. The Philadelphia-based company promised to rehire her once her life had become less chaotic. Paul isn't bitter. She even says she understands the company's position. An Aramark spokesman said the company won't comment about specific employees.
Getting by on Food Stamps and Unemployment Checks
These days, Paul doesn't get much sleep at night. She collects unemployment and has managed to save about $200 of the $825 she needs to put down a deposit for an apartment. The shelter provides them with most of their food. Anything beyond that, though, Paul buys using Food Stamps. She says she used to be embarrassed about using Food Stamps but "not any more. I got over that."
Paul is irked by the constant solicitations she gets for drugs in her neighborhood. She doesn't do drugs, but quips that it would probably benefit her financially if she did. Non-drug addict homeless people get less state aid " because you are not completely down and out," she says.
Not surprisingly, Paul hasn't been able to afford to pay her cell phone bill and her service was disconnected, making it that much harder for her to find a new job. Undaunted, she presses on.
Alyssa, one of thousands of children that now call a shelter home, is the one ray of light in Paul's life. She knows this life is hard on her daughter. In her nine years, Alyssa has attended five different schools. Nevertheless, the third-grader has maintained her spunk. She likes to draw on loose leaf paper that she carries around in a red binder and dreams of becoming a police offer so she can "save the world."
Right now, the only person Paul is concerned about saving is her daughter. "No one is going to do anything about our situation," she says. It's up to her to turn things around.
ARTICLE WRITTEN BY : FRENCH NAIL